PellagraAccording to the NCBI website, the condition of Pellagra occurs due to the deficiency of niacin in cells (PubMed Health, 2017). This deficiency arises from the lack of the nicotinic acid in the diet (Fields, 1916). Similarly, the disorder may be a result of excessive consumption of leucine. According to Field (1916), disruptions in the metabolism of protein in conditions such as hartnup disease or carcinoid syndrome and the deficiency of tryptophan might lead to Pellagra. Subsequently, tryptophan is a crucial amino acid that is common in peanuts, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. The body converts this acid into niacin to prevent Pellagra. In addition, individuals with conditions such as the inflammation of ileum or jejunum can acquire the disease. Besides, people who consume alcohol excessively can develop poor absorption digestive systems that can lead to Pellagra. According to PubMed Health (2017), therapeutic drugs such as isoniazid can provoke the condition.

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Causes of Pellagra
According to PubMed website, Pellagra first occurred among poor American citizens who primarily ate molasses, corn, and salt pork (Fields, 1916). Conversely, in the current era, most individuals consume diets rich in niacin. For this reason, most deficiencies regarding the condition occur due to alcoholism. Similarly, persons who have disorders in their digestive systems might portray symptoms of Pellagra. Researchers classify the disease into two categories; primary and secondary Pellagra. The primary type of Pellagra involves a severely low consumption of diets that have high levels of vitamin B3. Subsequently, a prolonged use of these foods leads to symptoms associated with the primary Pellagra condition (Fields, 1916). Accordingly, medical practitioners associate the secondary type of Pellagra with a poor absorption of niacin. Subsequently, this inadequate absorption occurs due to diverse factors such as medications or other medical conditions (Fields, 1916).

An individual suffering from Pellagra will portray symptoms related to his/her skin, nervous system, and the gastrointestinal system. For this reason, the person can exhibit signs such as dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis. In addition, patients might have scaly rashes on the skin or the occurrence of lesions and cracks on the skin. Other signs include vomiting, poor appetite, and nausea, thus, increasing the chances of malnutrition (PubMed Health, 2017).

According to Fields (1916), individuals who suffer from Pellagra may show symptoms associated with the nervous system. These indicators include anxiety, depression, disorientation, confusion, headaches, and tremors. In case a patient develops severe complication due to an untreated Pellagra, he or she might go into a coma or even death (PubMed Health, 2017).

The recommended treatment for Pellagra involves a daily dosage of 16 milligrams of niacin for men and 14 for women (PubMed Health, 2017). Besides, excellent niacin sources include fish, meat, cereals, poultry, peanuts, and fortified bread. In case a patient has problems with the absorption of niacin, medical practitioners might administer 20 milligrams of niacin supplements to aid in the prevention of deficiency. Similarly, physicians might prescribe high doses of the nicotinic acid. This acid can help to treat conditions involving high cholesterol such as triglycerides (PubMed Health, 2017). However, an excessive intake of the niacin acid is harmful; thus, patients should avoid taking them unless they are under doctor’s prescription (Fields, 1916). For individuals who consume niacin doses that are above 100 milligrams on a daily basis, medical practitioners recommend for constant tests, especially on the liver (PubMed Health, 2017). According to Dr. Kittrell, medical practitioners are likely to confuse diagnosis of skin-related disorders to Pellagra (Fields, 1916). For this reason, doctors must take precaution during the analysis process to avoid misperception.

  • Fields, R. S. (1916). Pellagra: Symptoms and Treatment. Journal of the National Medical Association, 8(1), 35.
  • PubMed Health. (2017). Anemia: Treatments – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health. PubMed Health. Retrieved 25 January 2017, from